*Three Minute Read
June is Pride month! I’ve spent some time over the last few days thinking about my experiences with the LGBTQIA+ community and LUNA.
At the top of my list are my experiences walking in the Indy Pride Parade! I remember the joy I felt participating and how I simply walked away each time feeling wrapped in love. It is truly a feeling like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.
The experience left me feeling closer to all my coworkers, friends, and the families who participated, and also closer and proud of the Indianapolis community. Additionally, the joy I have felt not just walking in the parade but walking with the organization I work for is immense! LUNA’s support of and participation in the Indy Pride Festival and Parade is always something I’m excited to share when I’m talking about LUNA to others outside our organization.
I have also thought about one of my co-workers sharing their LUNA story at a staff meeting a few years ago. LUNA spends a portion of our monthly staff meetings hearing a “story” from various staff members. These range from learning about hobbies and things we do in our free time to more harrowing stories about fleeing our homes from threats of violence. It is one of my most favorite parts of LUNA because we intentionally dedicate space and time to simply getting to know one another.
My co-worker and friend courageously shared their identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. When we spoke ahead of time, they told me they were considering sharing the information in their story but weren’t yet sure it felt right. So, they left the information for the end of their story providing the opportunity to decide in the moment what to do. I remember feeling both excitement and anxious as their story was coming to a close. And then joy washed over me as they shared their truth about their sexual identity and in response received a standing ovation from our staff! There were smiles and tears throughout the room.
Also in a staff meeting, I remember presenting the idea and significance of adding pronouns to our work email signatures. We watched a short video of individuals explaining why using the correct pronouns to address them was a necessity. We then discussed as a group that even if pronouns didn’t feel important to someone individually, adding them to your email signature signals to others you are an ally and that LUNA is an inclusive organization. Lastly, we discussed that this wasn’t mandatory. This was simply an option for anyone who wanted to make the change to their email signature.
After the meeting, much of LUNA’s staff added their pronouns to their signature, as well as on their Zoom name for virtual events and meetings. I’ve also heard many of our staff members introduce themselves to others using their pronouns too.
Lastly, I have thought a lot about a 21-Day Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program I created for LUNA about a year ago. I am thrilled that as an organization we have committed to our entire staff spending 21 days discussing various components of diversity, equity, and inclusion, seven days of which cover gender and sexual identity.
The program also includes lengthy and often vulnerable small-group discussions sharing our responses, reactions, concerns, fears, and uncertainties about what we have learned.
Because I have the honor of facilitating all the sessions, I’ve been fortunate to watch and hear everyone’s responses throughout. I’ve watched people feel affirmed while others feel challenged. I’ve seen individuals who have struggled with embracing the material be able to participate in their own way and at their own pace, taking positive steps towards inclusion and having a deeper understanding. The program has empowered individuals and helped bridge communication. I am grateful that as an organization we have prioritized this training as it not only enhances all of us by often creating new perspectives but also by signaling diversity, equity, and inclusion is a critical piece of who we are as a group.
None of these events, programs, or concepts have been fully embraced by every member of our staff. That is simply the nature of working in a diverse organization. We all come from various cultures and perspectives and we do not all think alike. I believe this is part of LUNA’s secret sauce!
I also believe, as an inclusive organization, it is LUNA’s responsibility to meet people where they are at any given time. We provide opportunities for everyone to take steps towards growth with respect and kindness. Opportunities for everyone to make their own, individual progress towards equity and inclusion.
I firmly believe creating the space and culture for inclusion and being intentional about doing so has been a critical piece to LUNA’s success. For me, the goal has never been about agreement. Or even being aligned. The goal is respect. Kindness. Belonging. Inclusion. Equity. Unity.
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Stevie Cromer is the Director of People and Culture for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at stevie@LUNA360.com.